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REINVENTING POLITICS AND CITIZENSHIP: WHAT ROLES FOR SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND PROGRESSIVE FORCES – Jaye Gaskia

REINVENTING POLITICS AND CITIZENSHIP: WHAT ROLES FOR SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND PROGRESSIVE FORCES; [Being text of paper presented at 4th International Conference in Dakar; 22nd to 24th May 2013, on the theme: Return of the political question; Crisis of representation and democratic struggle in Africa]

BY JAYE GASKIA [National Convener, United Action For Democracy – UAD, NIGERIA]

ABSTRACT

This paper will look at the existing cleavages of ethnicity and religion in society, the organisation and mobilisation of [mass] social movements around and across these cleavages; and the focus of these active social movements on renegotiating citizenship, popular participation and popular representation in governance as integral paths towards social transformation and the deepening of the democratisation process.

It will explore how people become transformed into active citizens in the context of popular struggles for change; the roles played by left and progressive forces in this active mobilisation and organisation; the effectiveness of the interventions with respect to the modes of organising and mobilising; and the challenges posed not only by the state and the elites cohering around it, including the co-optation of popular struggles and individual activists by the ruling elites; but also by the self limiting strategies of the popular and progressive movements, that many times enable these co-optations of popular struggles to take place.

And in particular the paper will draw historical examples and comparisons within the Nigerian context between the anti-military and pro-democracy struggles of the 80s and 90s; the Resource control struggles of the Niger Delta and the eventual emergence of armed militancy; as well as the popular and historic January Uprising of 2012.

SETTING THE CONTEXT

This presentation is organised around two core premises which form its central thrust. These are first, that the crisis of political representation is a permanent crisis, as long as society is stratified into classes and clusters with different and diametrically opposed relationship to power; that is into those who own and control power, and who wield this power in primarily in their own interests on the one hand; and those who are excluded and over whom power is exercised on the other hand.

The second premise is that the reinvention of politics and citizenship takes place within the context of a class struggle that seeks to expand or restrict the boundaries and limits of politics, democracy, and citizenship; bearing in mind that this class struggle, sometimes overt and sometimes covert, is both a struggle between classes as well as a struggle within classes, often waged through the agency of platforms based on cross class alliances of various types and compositions.

How do we start? Where do we begin from? Perhaps, one should begin with a confession; one is writing from a perspective of a participant-observer, a very active participant in some of the processes being reflected on here today, and one who has also written extensively about these processes as they have unfolded. It is important to state this right at the onset so that any biases noticed can be properly situated.

Politics, politicking and citizenship have always been contested terrains and processes; contested that is between classes and within classes. And the nature of their contestation in our own circumstance [by which it is meant the Nigerian, African, neo-colonial circumstance] have been further complicated by the impact of the violent process and nature of the history of our contact with Europe and Arab expansionism, as trade [that is trade in both commodities and human persons], colonial conquest, and the global architecture of post colonial dependence and subjugation.

It was in the context of that violent relationship of conquest and domination that the foundations for the specific nature and character of manifestation of ethnic and religious cleavages which continue to plague our countries and continent were laid.

Let me illustrate with a Nigerian example; given that European conquest and colonialism was Christian, and to a certain extent proselytizing and evangelizing, it is not surprising that Islam was transformed into an ideology of resistance to colonialism by the dominant ethnicities of the area that became Northern Nigerian, who had already established empires and kingdoms. Nevertheless, these empires and kingdoms also included recently conquered and pacified minority ethnicities, who in turn also adopted the Christian religion of the colonizers as an ideology of resistance against their forced incorporation into the Muslim empires and kingdoms.  How successive ruling elites have sought to manipulate these complex relationship between and within the cleavages are somewhat at the root of the continuing ethno-religious violence in the northern parts of Nigeria till the present moment. Of course other factors and dynamics have also since emerged and come into play.

Furthermore another surviving impact of the violent confrontation that colonialism, and before it the slave trade have had on our polities, is the way and manner by which it totally undermined, even reversed the autonomous processes of nation state formation and nation building ongoing in the territories across the continent; and replaced and supplanted these with an inchoate assemblage of conquered peoples into colonial administrative territories, accompanied by state formation processes based on the active promotion of divisions on the basis of mutual antagonisms. While it helped the colonial state and enterprise to survive and effectively undertake its role, it has continued to have serious impacts on nation building and nation state construction in the aftermath of colonialism. A major reason being that the anti-colonial elite was weaned and nurtured under these conditions and in many cases could not rise above the limitations of their social circumstance; for the relationship between the colonial overlords and the indigenous elite was a thoroughly complex one. It was and still is in many cases a relationship characterised by reverence, if not subservience, as well as antagonism, if not dissidence, at one and the same time. The result has been the consolidation of a state which was alien and separated from the community that became the country, and whose main role is that of pacification of the residents of the territories under its real or intended control.

It is quite often a relationship whereby the Ruling elites of our countries predominantly accept the west, western civilisation, and its present level of development as well as its achievements, as the limit of human civilisation, and the image of developed Africa, and their vision of transformation. However this is also a ruling elite whose successful nurturing has led to the undermining of its self confidence, and its confidence in the ability of its own peoples to progress without western support, and without western leadership. The outcome is a ruling elite that in adapting to its situation, has adapted the peasant mentality. It is not in large measure a patriotic elite; because of the pressures of the dynamics of primitive accumulation of capital by a belated capitalist ruling class, in the context of late developing capitalism, it is inherently corrupt; but nevertheless it does not invest the proceed of its treasury looting and pillage at home in the country, but abroad. So whereas like almost every other ruling class in history, it had to accumulate its wealth through pillage and robbery; unlike other ruling classes, because of the global architecture of dependence and subjugation, it has to invest this loot abroad not at home, thus further undermining the ability of national capitalism to develop and evolve.

For this ruling class, the countries they govern is the farm, while the west is the village/community where home is. For this Ruling elite trapped in the (African) peasant mentality and psychosis, the farm, where the wealth is extracted, is the site for temporary structures; while the village or community, the site where the wealth is invested is the site for permanent structures etc. So while they loot the treasury of the states they control, they invest their loot in Europe and the Americas.

It is important to understand this context in order to understand the struggles going on across the continent today.

DEFINING POLITICS AND CITIZENSHIP

As stated earlier, politics, politicking and citizenship are contested terrains and processes; the site of now overt, now covert contestations between and within classes. It is within the context of these class contestations that the parameters and boundaries of politics and citizenship are constantly defined and redefined.

Under military dictatorship in particular, and I imagine under one party dictatorships as well, the parameters and boundaries of politics and politicking were very directly and restrictively defined. By definition, and in reality, the nature of politics and politicking was exclusionary, and very limiting. These restrictions and limitations were such that to a larger rather than lesser extent, they represented severe curbs on particularly civil and political rights; that is in the final analysis on participation and representation.

The reality however has always been that where participation and representation are severely limited and curbed; then not only civil and political rights; but also Socio-economic and cultural rights as well are severely undermined.

And where participation and representation are curbed, coerced, forced, then citizenship is undermined; and a majority of citizens to the extent of their exclusion are denied their full citizenship of the polity.

It is in this context that the struggle to expand political participation and representation is very often also a struggle to realise full citizenship; and therefore a process of reinventing politics and citizenship. This is because in essence what these struggles seek to achieve is to broaden the base of politics and citizenship, thus redefining these processes. And they try to achieve this against great odds including the militarization of politics.

For instance in the Nigeria context over the past several decades, politics has continued to be conducted by the ruling class as a low intensity warfare, a low intensity armed struggle with spikes of high intensity violence every now and then with the youths as the canon fodders and foot soldiers. These youths are co-opted and armed by the various factions of the ruling class, and various leading elements of this class; that is by so-called ‘Godfathers’ and ‘strongmen’, who in reality are absentee warlords that delegate the fighting to youths transformed into armed political thugs.

It is only logical that overtime this dynamic will be pushed to its logical conclusion, and the armed youth groups, and their sub-commandants who are in actual command of the troops will become powerful enough to challenge the authority of the Godfathers and warlords; and proceed to assume the toga of actual warlords, seek to become ‘political leaders’, and try to violently alter the relationship between them and their erstwhile benefactors and sponsors! The true warlord thus emerges.

REINVENTING POLITICS AND CITIZENSHIP; FOUR EPOCHAL STRUGGLES

At this point it is important to state here that the nature of citizenship contestation in Nigeria, which is the reference point of this paper, has been shaped by the long history of modern state formation and constitution in Nigeria; that is by that context explained earlier. Thus Nigeria citizenship has been undermined by the existence and nurturing of concept and practice indigeneship of sub national territories by various factions of the ruling elites, in their intra class contestation for access to and control of power and resources. The outcome of this specific intra-class contestation is the emergence of the settler-indigene dichotomy, and the often violent manifestations of this dynamic.

Thus has emerged the struggle around the demand to resolve the national question in Nigeria, by which it is meant the renegotiation of the relationship between and among the component ethnic nationalities of the country on one hand, and the resolution of the indigene-settler dichotomy on the other hand.

This struggle to reshape Nigeria citizenship by renegotiating the relationship between and among ethnic and sub national groups, has been most encapsulated under the demand and call for some form of National Conference whose primary agenda would be addressing the national question.

In the three decades since the truncation of what is called in Nigeria, the Second Republic in December 1983, there have been waged by progressive social forces, at least 3 broad epochal struggles, as well as a more or less generic epochal struggle by organised workers for living wage.

The first of these two epochal struggles were more or less coterminous, and did overlap in a number of ways. These were the Anti-Military and Pro-Democracy [some would add Human Rights] struggles of the 80’s and 90’s of the last century; and the Resource Control struggle of the peoples of the Niger Delta of the 90’s and early 2000s.

Both struggles were waged primarily under military dictatorships [of Buhari-Idiagbon, IBB, Abacha, and Abubakar], while also extending in varying degrees under the civilian regimes since 1999.

THE ANTI-MILITARY AND PRO-DEMOCRACY STRUGGLE;

It can be said that the apogee of the anti-military struggle was in the 90’s, and that it became framed and defined by the struggle to revalidate the June 12 1993 election and electoral victory of the so called progressive faction of the ruling class.

It is interesting to note that radical activists and left progressive forces who had organised and led the social movements against military dictatorship had mobilised against what they termed the fraudulent and insincere transition program of the Military dictatorship of IBB that produced the June 12 outcome, and the consequent annulment by the military of the result of that election. Radical and progressive forces had instead demanded immediate convocation of a Sovereign National Conference [SNC/NC]. The campaign for Democracy [CD] a nationwide coalition of progressive forces had been organised by 1990 to coordinate this struggle.

However, the annulment of the election, and the monumental crisis engendered by the annulment was viewed and taken as an opportunity by the radical and progressive forces to intensify the struggle against military dictatorship and quicken the process of convening the SNC.

Thenceforth there emerged three lines in contention within the mass movement; it revolved essentially around the convening authority of the SNC; Was it to be convened by an abdicating military regime? Was an abdicating military regime going to revalidate the June 12 election outcome, hand over power to the winner, who was then to establish a national unity government and then convene the SNC? Or was the mass movement to convene through insurrectionary mass struggle, the SNC, which would then establish a transitional government headed by the winner of the June 12 election, thus revalidating that election?

These were the contending lines.  And in the final analysis it was the inability to achieve a consensus on which line to take that led to the split of that movement, at the February 1994 convention of the CD in Ibadan, South West Nigeria. The immediate trigger though for the split though was the Abacha coup, which had overthrown the Interim Government which an abdicating IBB regime had put in place in August 1993, when the mass struggle forced the dictator to step aside.

Some, who were in the majority at that convention, were persuaded by the line that the SNC can only be convened by forces outside of the movement and therefore by a sitting government; were willing to give the Abacha regime a chance given the endorsement of that government by the so called progressive wing of the ruling class, who had nominated persons to serve in the government, and had counted on the emergent despot to revalidate the result of the June 12 election  and hand power over to the acclaimed winner.

Others who were in a slight minority at that convention, were persuaded on the contrary that the coup should be resisted, and that the SNC should be immediately convened. The split occurred, the movement emerged weakened, at least for a further two years, during which time, the despotic regime of the usurper, had grown emboldened enough to mount an offensive on the Ogoni campaign for minority rights, militarily occupy Ogoni land, and execute the leadership of the Ogoni Movement, while also capturing and imprisoning the acclaimed winner of the June 12 election.

Those who split from the CD in 1994 in Ibadan, after a series of meetings, including the establishment of new political platforms [Democratic Alternative (DA) for instance in 1995], gathered in Lagos in May 1997 to establish a new nationwide coalition, the United Action For Democracy [UAD].

As an instructive anecdote, coincidentally, the UAD was being established on May 17th as rebel forces led by the elder Kabila were entering Kinshasha and overthrowing the despot [only to promptly replace it with a new despotism].

From its foundation, the new coalition launched a campaign of mass civil disobedience, which had by the worker’s day events of May 1st 1998 threatened to make the country ungovernable for the despotic regime.

Imperialism then intervened. In June it organised the murder of the maximum ruler, and power was transferred to the most senior military officer next in line to him [by this time the hitherto number two person in the regime was already in imprison for a fathom coup plot]; It followed this up in July 1998 with the murder of the imprisoned winner of the June 12 1994 election.

The ruling class quickly began to reorganize itself on the basis of how one of its leading lights had described the twin murder/assassination of the maximum ruler and the winner of the June 12 election. He [Bola Ige] had described it as the mergence or creation of a level playing ground for the ruling class to resume the consolidation of its hold on the country and its resources. A hasty transition to civil democratic government was undertaken, Obasanjo was taken from prison, having hitherto been implicated in the fathom coup against the maximum ruler and jailed; he was taken from prison and coronated as the new civilian president. He had plenty of things going for him. He was Egba, from Abeokuta like the murdered winner of the June 12 election; he was a retired military officer and former military ruler; he had gained some international reputation as a statesman; and he also at that point in time had no political base of his own, and so could not pose an independent threat to the interests of those fronting him.

The struggle by progressive social forces to democratise the polity, and expand the boundaries of political participation and representation continued into the civilian dispensation; and it would reach a new apogee as the January Uprising in 2012.

THE NIGER DELTA:

The second epochal struggle from that era, was the Resource Control/self determination struggle of the peoples of the Niger Delta.

Building on, and learning from the experience of the Ogoni struggle and the movement [MOSOP] which coordinated that struggle under the leadership of Ken Saro Wiwa; and driven by a sense of urgency, against the background of the internecine inter and intra community conflicts engendered by the state and the oil exploration and production processes; activists based [not just from the Niger Delta] in the Niger Delta began to hold several multi-layered consultations and meetings to reorganize in the aftermath of the lull forced by the military repression of the Ogoni struggle and movement.

It was understood that there was an urgent necessity to redirect the anger and energy of youths from waging a debilitating war against themselves towards waging a war of national liberation against the common enemy; in this case the Nigerian state and the fractions of the ruling class cohering around it on one hand; and the oil and gas companies and the imperialist interests they represent on the other hand.

It was understood that there was a necessity to amplify the Ogoni experience into a Niger Delta wide experience on the one hand; while properly integrating this struggling into the wider nationwide struggle for democracy and restructuring of Nigeria.

Thus was established in 1997 the Pan Niger Delta Resistance Movement [CHIKOKO MOVEMENT], which promptly became an affiliate of the UAD.

The Chikoko Movement sought to facilitate the reorganization of mass movements of the respective ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta; to facilitate the adoption of ethnic declarations as basic demands and mobilisation documents for each  of these ethnic movements; to provide a platform to organically link the movements and struggles of the various ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta through adequate participation and representation in the organs and structures of the CHIKOKO Movement; to establish a fighting unity/united front between workers in the oil and gas sector and the ethnic nationality movements; to convene a Pan Niger Delta Convention [PNDC] which would adopt and harmonise the various ethnic nationality declarations into a Pan Niger Delta Declaration; and to facilitate and coordinate the integration of the Self Determination struggles of the peoples of the Niger Delta into the wider Pan Nigeria struggle for democracy, to democratise all aspects of national life, and reshape/structure Nigeria.

Thus the demand to convene the SNC became a core demand of the Chikoko Movement; while the convening of the PNDC was to be a prelude to as well as an integral part of the SNC process.

The Chikoko Movement organising efforts directly led to the organising of the Ijaw Youth Conference, the establishment of the Ijaw Youth Convention [IYC], and the making of the Kiaima Declaration of Ijaw Youths of 1998. Furthermore, it also directly inspired the reorganization of other ethnic nationality formations in the Niger Delta that led to the adoption of various declarations and bills of rights by the various nationality groups. This will include, The resolutions of the Urhobo Economic Summit; The Oron Bill of Rights; The Ikwere Youth Declaration; The Isoko Declaration of Isoko Youths; Aklaka declaration of Egi people; etc…..

The birth of the Ijaw Youth Council [IYC] and the kiaiama Declaration was in all respect as much as the establishment of the Chikoko Movement and Launch of its manifesto, a definitive game changer. The organising and mobilising method adopted was one that actively encouraged mass and often times direct participation and representation through the platform of mobile youth parliaments which moved and convened from clan to clan and from village to village. Every community was encouraged to establish their own youth movement, which was then represented in the Clan youth movement, which was itself represented in the Ijaw nationality youth movement, the IYC.

While coordinating these Niger Delta efforts, the Chikoko movement also coordinated Niger Delta participation in the wider national struggle through nationwide coalitions and mass movements like the UAD. At the same time it sought to forster specific inter-ethnic harmony by spearheading consultations among and between ethnic nationality groups, including OPC and other south west groups; Arewa and middle belt youths, and Igbo youth movements from the south east. These consultative forums were christened Coalition For Self Determination [COSED].

THE JANUARY UPRISING OF 2012:

The third and most significant epochal intervention of progressive social forces and the mass movements led by them in recent times took place during the January Uprising of 2012; what has come to also be referred to as the Occupy Nigeria Protest Movement.

The uprising was triggered by the unconscionable jerking up of the price of fuel/pms/petrol on January 1st 2012. The anger which had been simmering just under the surface for a long while erupted; and for 10 days, the nation was paralysed, and the holders of state power and their foreign backers and guarantors, jittery and panicked.

The coalition of social forces that waged coordinated and provided leadership for the January Uprising was different in its essential composition from the coalitions that waged the Anti-military, pro-democracy; and resource control struggles.

The coalition that gave conscious leadership to the January Uprising was at its core the Labour Civil Society Coalition [LASCO], which comprised of the two labour federations/centers in the country; The Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] for so called junior workers, and the Trade Union Congress [TUC] for so called senior workers. In addition to these two labour centers were two civil society and citizens’ organisations nationwide coalitions; United Action For Democracy [UAD] and Joint Action Front [JAF].

Beyond and around this coalition of four centers, crsytalised, broader and loser coalition of other civil society and citizen organisations, this accepted the leadership of the Labour Civil Society Coalition without being formally affiliated with it. This broader and loser coalition could be called the January Coalition; because it was spontaneous in its formation, and existed just to coordinate broad participation with the Labour Civil Society Coalition led protests. It had no structures.

That uprising has been the most widespread and the most national and nationwide in the post independence history of Nigeria, covering a minimum of 55 cities and mobilising millions to the streets on successive days for more than five days across the country.

The nature of the coalition, with respect to the conscious involvement of organised labour centers and their acknowledged leaders differentiated this from the other two struggles described, and was the significant factor that turned a protest movement into an uprising.

A very enduring gain of that uprising is the radicalization of significant layers of Nigerians, and in particular, of her youths, who prior to the Uprising were passive citizens, but who since the uprising have become activists and active citizens.

This composition of the leading organs of the mass protest movement was at once the source of strength and weakness; and was responsible for its initial heady success and advance, and its eventual retreat.

The trade union centers are organs of struggle, but they are not political formations to wage decisive political struggles where the objective is to take political power and proceed to reorganize society. For that task, we need additional different structures and organs of struggle. We need political platforms, organising the working class and its allies, playing a decisive role in the organisation and coordination of the uprising.

The core lesson from the January Uprising, and the anti-military/pro-democracy; as well as Resource control and self determination struggles before it; is that the conscious participation of the working class through its class organisations is the decisive element in any transformative struggle; yet this participation requires to be a conscious political participation through political formations of the class, in order to be able to make the transition from resistance to revolution; from protest to power; from challenging power to challenging for and taking power.

To sum up, the January Uprising [of 2012] represented an opportunity; it remains the most significant and preeminent apogee and watershed in the history of popular movements and popular struggles in Nigeria. Within the dynamics of its advance and retreat lies the crucial lesson that should point us to the road to victory and a future that needs to start now.

It has [and its experience continues to] radicalize and polarize a growing and qualitatively significant portion of the active population, literally millions of people. Its history in its making and its unfolding embodied in the most dramatic and intense manner both the finest and the ugliest in the traditions of our popular movements and struggles. It has become the reference point for a new emergent, growing and increasingly assertive generation of activists, transforming hitherto passive citizens into active citizens.

THE GENERIC WORKERS’ STRUGGLE:

The fourth generic struggle that has been waged consistently over these decades is the struggle of the working class, in formal and informal sectors, organised and unorganized, for increased wages/earnings and improved conditions of living.

These struggles have witnessed various highs and lows and ended up in defeats, partial successes, and full success on different occasions. The outcomes of these generic struggles have helped to push the bounds of rights [civil, political, social, economic, and cultural], at various levels of government in Nigeria, and thus like the epochal struggles, contributed to redefining politics, politicking and citizenship processes in the country.

Prior to the January Uprising for instance, elements of the regime, had been regularly boastful that policy cannot be made by or as concession to the mob on the streets. Now, regime elements, and the ruling elites in general, in power or in opposition, routinely respond to the mob with policy statements and initiatives.

The residents of suburban neighbourhoods and slums across the country, threatened by demolitions of their homes, the criminalization and destruction of their livelihoods, and their forced evictions from urban centers have organised with progressive social forces major resistances to these actions of power and the elites; and are through such struggles redefining the boundaries of politics and citizenship, affirming their rights as citizens to reside in the urban centers, to have access to social services, and to have access to a means of livelihood.

What is more, such movements of resistance, have become emboldened since and by the January Uprising; they are building alliances with progressive forces and other citizens’ organisations, in particular the historic coalitions; and furthermore the resistance is becoming increasingly political. Since the January Uprising, in the major elections that have been organised, the level of participation in the electoral campaigns, in the voting process, and in the defense of popular mandates have increased and improved tremendously.

IN LIEU OF A CONCLUSION; THE PATH NOT TAKEN

What roles therefore can progressive forces and social formations play in reinventing politics and citizenship? How might we play such roles? What have been the obstacles to our effectively playing this role?

The role of progressive social forces is to understand the conditions of living and working of the mass of the people; the nature of their domination, subjugation and exploitation; the nature of their exclusion; to bring this knowledge to the wider populace, and use it in facilitating the organisation and mobilisation of the resistance of the subordinate classes and fractions, and excluded groups. Our task is to work with the victims of the system in making them conscious of the reasons for their conditions, and working together to organise and mobilise the kind of platforms and movements; and the methods of struggle that can enable them not only to influence power, but to essentially transform power; such that they become the subjects and not objects of their own societal existence.

In undertaking this task, it is important for us to understand the necessity and urgency the routine day to day survival struggle, while understanding the utmost importance of prioritizing the political struggle for power. This is because ultimately it is through political power, state power, that the building or transformation of modern society is coordinated. Those who control access to power and who wield power are the ones who lead the shaping of society, and whose influence and interests are predominantly reflected in the social transformation process.

Several other lessons can be summarised from our history of struggle; The only way a Sovereign National Conference [SNC] can be convened in a sovereign manner is through an insurrection, at the height or summit of an uprising, that has either taken power, or has so weakened existing power that an effective dual power situation has come into existence.

To the extent that such a conference remains a necessity for Nigeria, to that same extent is this lesson relevant for the progressive social forces.

And we do have an historic opportunity, opened up by the window of the January Uprising, an opportunity limited in time and space.

The crisis of governance has reached such an extent that the ruling class is in a state of heightened internal crisis. The ruling party is on the brink of a catastrophic implosion; while the opposition parties are in a hasty race to pull together a contraption strong enough to supplant the imploding ruling party. Both the ruling party and the merging opposition are united by the fact that they seek power not in order to transform society or ease the burden on citizens; but to have access to the collective wealth of society, in order to gain or retain the right of plunder.

But because the January Uprising has radicalized and politicized hundreds of thousands, if not millions of citizens, this intra ruling class political crisis is taking place within a historically different context; in the context of a socially and politically awakening citizenry.

Here in lies the historic opportunity; How do we intervene as progressive social forces, in a manner that hastens and quickens the level, intensity of the political radicalization of the citizenry; and facilitates the conversion of raw anger into political determination; and which transforms emerging active citizens into political activists for social transformation. How can we gain political capital from the January Uprising?

There are a number of options; we can facilitate a process whereby the ruling elite politicians become the beneficiary of the anger and increasing radicalization and politicisation of the citizenry. So we can help the opposition to harness this anger, and to come to power, in the hope that in power the opposition will behave differently from its class twin, and commit class suicide.

Or we can actually work together with the broadened constituency opened up to us since the January  Uprising, to build alternative political platform, independent of ruling class parties, and autonomous of ruling elite influence; and use this platform to build up a mass political momentum towards the general elections of 2015 in the first instance; and bid for state power with the parties of the ruling elite, on the basis of our own social program of transformation, one that if implemented will enable us carry out a most far reaching redefinition and broadening of the boundaries of politics and citizenship in our country.

We need to build political parties of a fundamentally new type, parties of the social movements, a movement party. We need a movement party that can take the street and the protest movement into parliament and bring the parliament and politics into the street.

For me there can be only one choice; to build alternative, independent and autonomous political platform to among other things contest political power with the parties of the ruling class; realising that state power is located is located in different centers of society.

The former choice is a manifestation of our continued implementation of a the policy of self limitation; we underestimate our capacity; and we make ourselves available as junior partners in alliances with so called progressive wings of the ruling class, and or with reformist bureaucracies of labour centers.

And the end result of self limitation? Co-optation of individual leaders and leading activists, and the destruction or weakening of our movements, by the ruling class!

We can, and we should avoid this fate, this time around.

About the author

Omojuwa

In the beginning...Let there be Light http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japheth_J._Omojuwa

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